Contest Requirements & Guidelines


Students applying for JEA’s Journalist of the Year must complete the requirements and guidelines listed below as a part of their portfolio:

  • Deadlines: All entries on the state level should be submitted to the state director/designated official by the state deadline. After judging is complete at the state level, the state director/designated official can return the winning state entry to the student for minor revisions/corrections suggested by the judging panel.
  • All state winners’ applications for the national contest are due by 11:59 p.m. CDT, March 15.
  • Applicant’s adviser must be a current JEA member.
  • Applicant must have participated in student media for a minimum of two years.
  • Applicant must be a senior in high school.
  • To compete for a JEA scholarship, the portfolio must be a state JOY award winner. Students in states without a state director should submit their portfolios to the JEA director whose name will be listed under the state name. Students of JEA members teaching at international high schools abroad should see International at the bottom of the state directors list for the appropriate contact information.
  • The following must be attached to the online application:
    1. Official high school transcript or a counselor’s statement including journalism classes taken, grades and current GPA. Student should be a high school senior and should have an overall GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
    2. Action photo of applicant involved in some aspect of student media, and an extended caption written for that photo. If there is more than one dominant subject in the photo, please use location of candidate (left, right, etc.).
    3. Three letters of recommendation from those who know the applicant well and understand the impact of the journalistic experience on the student’s life (no letter should exceed two pages in length).
    4. Personal résumé.
    5. Self-analytical essay: Students should write with passion and make an impact on the judges because this essay functions as the applicant’s one-on-one interview with the judges. Essay should not exceed two pages in length.


There are two parts to the application: 1) the application form, which includes personal information (contact information, transcript, letters of recommendation, résumé), will be emailed directly to JEA headquarters staff, and 2) the online portfolio of the student’s work, which judges will access via URL. See below for more details.

1. Candidates should complete the online application. Before completing, read the following:

  • Be prepared to fill out the application at one time, as there is not an option to save one’s work and continue later.
  • Students should write their self-analytical essay, and create their résumé somewhere else (i.e. Word Document, Google Doc), and be prepared to attach as a PDF to their application.
  • Scan or convert your transcript and letters of recommendation to PDFs to upload when prompted as part of the application process.
  • You will need a URL (Internet address) for your online portfolio showing your work examples.

2. Candidates should create an online portfolio for examples of their work:

  • No personal information should be included in your online portfolio. (See this tutorial for more information)
  • Work examples are part of presentation where candidates can showcase their progress over time as a student journalist.
  • Applicants can choose any platform they wish to present their work examples. (See this tutorial for more information)
  • Broadcast/video samples should be no longer than 15 minutes in length.
  • Work examples in the online portfolio should be organized according to the following 11 categories: Design, Editing, Entrepreneurship, Law and Ethics, Leadership and Team Building, Multimedia Broadcast, News Gathering, News Literacy, Photojournalism, Web, Writing (See this tutorial for more information)
  • Each work example for the portfolio must be labeled with the applicable category, evidence of usage/publication of example, awards/contests entered and an explanation/reasoning for each example.
    • Explanation/reasoning – includes the applicant’s explanation about the specific assignment. Include any difficulties encountered with the assignment and special circumstances affecting it. Explanation should be 25-50 words in length, easy to read and should explain why this entry is important and was chosen for the portfolio.
  • The applicant’s personality should be evident in the entry. The student should choose a design/concept for the portfolio.
  • To see examples of the previous entries, please scroll up and use the side navigation tool “Examples of Winning JOY Entries.”

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